Miles Kington: Greed, sloth, envy and ironing-board covers

'Spiritual wellbeing can only be achieved through a focused, customer-driven market strategy'
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The Independent Online

Yesterday I brought you part of a current court case in which a man called Palfrey is up on a charge of burglary. He admits his guilt, but claims that he was doing it on God's instructions. As interest in this case has been so widespread, I am bringing you more of it today.

Yesterday I brought you part of a current court case in which a man called Palfrey is up on a charge of burglary. He admits his guilt, but claims that he was doing it on God's instructions. As interest in this case has been so widespread, I am bringing you more of it today.

Counsel: Now, let me get this straight, Mr Palfrey. You are part of a sect called Jehovah's Burglars that goes from door to door not only converting people to Christianity but doing odd jobs?

Defendant: Not only odd jobs. Commission work. Window cleaning, computer maintenance, secretarial work, anything that needs doing.

Counsel: And burglary?

Defendant: You may call it burglary if you wish.

Counsel: What do you call it?

Defendant: God's work.

Counsel: In what sense can burglary be God's work?

Defendant: In the sense that we remove from people's houses objects that engender jealousy, greed, idleness, sloth, envy, lust etc.

Counsel: The seven sins?

Defendant: Six. I seem to have forgotten one.

Counsel: But the objects you are accused of taking are not luxury objects. They are things like garden gloves and ironing-board covers!

Defendant: Ah – that is because among the other things we do is travel door to door peddling goods. Pedlars traditionally sell such things as garden gloves and ironing-board covers. Obviously, if these have been removed from the house previously, the householder is more likely to buy more.

Counsel: What about clothes pegs?

Defendant: What about them?

Counsel: I thought that clothes pegs were one of the most traditional items carried by itinerant pedlars.

Defendant: They used to be. Unfortunately, over the years people have accumulated vast quantities of clothes pegs and rarely buy new ones any more. Clothes-peg bags, yes. Clothes pegs, no.

Counsel: So you claim that going into a house and taking away things which you are about to sell to the householder is God's work?

Defendant: Obviously. All the money we make goes to God.

Counsel: And He commands you to do this?

Defendant: Obviously.

Counsel: In person?

Defendant: Obviously.

Counsel: Do you hear a voice from heaven saying: "Thou shalt steal! Thou shalt ignore the commandment adjuring you to not steal! This has now been rescinded!"

Defendant: No, obviously not. God does not talk in an Old Testament way any more. It is only unbelievers who think that. God keeps pace with the age and talks to us in a way befitting these modern times.

Counsel: So what does he say?

Defendant: He says something like: "In the light of the recent downturn in business conditions, prioritisation must be given to maximisation of personal customer contact."

Man in Public Gallery: He lies!

Judge: Who lies?

Man: The Jehovah's Burglar lies!

Judge: And who might you be to make this unseemly interruption?

Man: I am a Jehovah's Manager!

Judge: A what?

Man: A Jehovah's Manager, my Lord. We Jehovah's Managers believe spiritual wellbeing can only be achieved by a focused, customer-driven market strategy, and that God speaks to us using the language of management and business expansion! Therefore this Jehovah's Burglar is blasphemous to talk in Jehovah's Manager talk!

Judge: Before I clear this court, is there any sect present that we have not yet heard from who would like to introduce their own concept of God?

Second Man in Public Gallery: Yes! Me!

Judge: And what pray might you be? A Seventh Day Adventist, perhaps?

Second Man: No! I am a Seventh Avenue Dentist!

Judge: A what?

Second Man: My Lord, we Seventh Avenue Dentists believe that evil is the plaque which must be washed away on a regular basis! Sinning stains the enamel of life! God says: "Open wide and ye shall believe!" We believe that...

Judge: I believe it is time we broke off for lunch. Court adjourned!

The case continues, though not in this column

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